This is a brave new world, Yankees fans, filled with the team’s stars (Aaron Judge) getting the proper respect and the team’s surprise talents somehow not getting overlooked. It feels good to do good. Instead of having to scream about how nasty Clay Holmes is, everyone just gets it. When the entire baseball world knows facts, it’s a better place.
Some arguments still have to be articulated, though. Ink has been spilled on this very site to advocate for Nestor Cortes Jr. aka The Hialeah Kid aka Nasty Nestor aka The Funk to make the All-Star team, and then to start the All-Star Game.
While there’s a good chance some other dink veteran eventually earns that honor or that Cortes backslides a bit and ends up with a slightly-less-lustrous star by the time mid-July rolls around, it seems clear that the baseball consensus has Cortes atop the AL at the moment, even after a tough start in Minnesota this past week.
That 4.1 inning outing boosted Cortes’ ERA all the way to 1.96, an embarrassingly high number that still has him ranked No. 1 on MLB.com’s Cy Young ranker. Number one!
Will Cortes end up atop the mound and in the spotlight at Dodger Stadium on July 19? It’s still too soon to tell. But it’s not just Yankee diehards who seem to believe he belongs.
Screenshot this one and save it for the archives, because MLB looked at Justin Verlander’s pedigree/comeback season at age 39/MLB-leading WHIP and said, “Nah, give us Nasty Nestor.”
Savor Yankees’ Nestor Cortes Jr. being atop MLB’s Cy Young power rankings
At this very moment, Cortes has been worth 2.4 WAR coming off a career-high 93 innings last season. It’s unclear how much stamina he’ll be able to assemble for the remainder of the season (he’s at the 64-inning mark coming off his toughest start), but the crafty left-hander has undoubtedly been the story of the first half in the American League — and, again, it’s not just Yankee homers saying this! MLB.com agrees!
So, who might steal the award from Cortes? McClanahan and Verlander are the clear other front-runners, though the Blue Jays just had to be annoying in the comments.
Kevin Gausman and Alek Manoah have been great! Don’t get us wrong. They’ve been exactly great enough to be somewhere between the fourth- and sixth-ranked Cy Young candidates!
Though Cortes could use a little extra rest during the break, it’ll still feel incredible to watch him get baseball’s highest midseason honor. These Cy Young rankings are the first time we really thought he had a shot.